Monday Night — 09.12.05 — Dialogues with Brian Holmes

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Monday Night — 09.12.05 — Dialogues with Brian Holmes
0. About this Monday Night
1. Suggested Readings
2. About Brian Holmes
3. Continental Drift by Brian Holmes
4. Continental Drift Program 09.12.05 – 09.18.05
5. Continental Drift Registration
6. Continental Drift Netcasting
7. Continental Drift Guests
0. About this Monday Night
What: Dialogues with Brian Holmes
Where: 16 Beaver Street, 4th floor. Directions below
When: Monday Night – 09.12.05 – 7:30 p.m.
Who: everyone is welcome – free and open to all
As we have indicated in a previous email, we are Happy to organize a workshop with Brian Holmes this coming week.
As a beginning, we thought of this Monday Night as an introduction to Brian’s work in general, and specifically how it leads to the most recent work that will be discussed and developed in Continental Drift i.e. the seminar.
Many of Brian’s texts are published on Université Tangente
Our desire in tonight’s discussion is to locate turning points in his work that take place in essays such as “The Flexible Personality,” “Unleashing the Collective Phantoms,” and “Transparency & Exodus.” and to situate a certain number of approaches, that might be helpful in proceeding to Continental Drift.
the following are lists of two groups of essays that are interesting in relation to our dialogues with him this evening along with a link to each of the groups.
1. essays: two lists, two groups, two links
Please do not feel overwhelmed by the selection, you do not need to have read everything before attending! It is meant to be a reference, to pave the way and help prepare some questions in relation to some of the essays.
1. Unleashing the Collective Phantoms
Cartography of Excess
Unleashing the Collective Phantoms
Drifting Through the Grid
Warhol in the Rising Sun
Maps for the Outside
Revenge of the Concept
Liar’s Poker
Artistic Autonomy
A Rising Tide of Contradiction
Signals, Statistics & Social Experiments
S-77CCR: Eyes in the Skies / Democracy in the Streets
Three Proposals for a Real Democracy
Reverse Imagineering
Transparency & Exodus
2. Hieroglyphs of the Future
On Interaction in Contemporary Art
Cities, Spirals, Exhibitions
Kosov@: Futures of the Transatlantic Carnival
Paradox of the Vehicle
Reflecting Museums
Hieroglyphs of the Future
The Flexible Personality
2. About Brian Holmes
Brian Holmes is an art and cultural critic, activist and translator, living in Paris, interested primarily in the intersections of artistic and political practice. He holds a doctorate in Romance Languages and Literatures from the University of California at Berkeley. He was the English editor of publications for Documenta X, Kassel, Germany, 1997, was a member of the graphic arts group Ne pas plier from 1999 to 2001, and has recently worked with the French conceptual art group Bureau d’études. He is a frequent contributor to the international mailinglist Nettime, a member of the editorial committee of the art magazine “Springerin” and the political-economy journal “Multitudes”, a regular contributor to the magazine Parachute, and a founder of the new journal “Autonomie Artistique”. He is currently preparing a book in French, entitled “La personnalité flexible: Pour une nouvelle critique de la culture.”
3. Continental Drift — Overview
By Brian Holmes
Continental integration refers to the constitution of enormous production blocs – and particularly, to NAFTA and the EU (while awaiting the emergence of a full-fledged Asian bloc around Japan and China).
But continental drift means you find Morocco in Finland, Caracas in Washington, “the West” in “the East” – and so on in every direction. That’s the metamorphic paradox of contemporary power.
The continental blocs are functioning governmental units one scale up from the nation-state. They represent specific attempts to articulate and manage the vast constructive and destructive energies that have been unleashed by the last four decades of technological development, from the introduction of the worldwide container transport system in the sixties, all the way to the emergence of widespread satellite transmission in the eighties and the Internet in our time. Military strategies, the competitive rush for markets, but also the uncertainty and turbulence of the neoliberal globalization process itself has led capitalistic elites to seek forms of territorial stabilization – however violent this “stabilization” may be. This means re-organizing, not just spaces and flows, but also hearts and minds, whether in the centers of accumulation or on the peripheries. We are all affected, wherever we are living.
The main hypothesis I want to put out here is that the two really-existing blocs – NAFTA and the EU – are both developing not only a functioning set of institutions, but also a dominant form of subjectivity, adapted to the new scale. This form of subjectivity is offered to or imposed upon all those who still live only at the national level, or on the multiple edges or internal peripheries of the bloc, so as to integrate them. At the same time it serves to rationalize – or to mask – the concomitant processes of exploitation, alienation, exclusion and ecological devastation. In what different ways does this integration of individual and cultural desire take place? How is it resisted or opposed? How to imagine an excess over the normative figures of continentalization? Where are the escape hatches, the lines of flight, the alternatives to bloc subjectivity? And what types of effects could these exert on the constituted systems?
To answer such questions in any meaningful way requires several different levels of investigation. First, the driving forces of the globalization process – including neoliberal doctrine, the globalized financial system, the transnational institutions and Imperial infrastructures such as the Internet or the GPS satellite mapping system – have to be identified and observed in operation. Second, the evolving forms of territorial governance and the constantly shifting territorial limits of the major continental blocs have to be described and differentiated from each other. Third, the dominant forms of subjectivity in each bloc – the models of success and jouisssance – have to be characterized, using the tools of social psychology. But the most interesting and probably the most urgent thing is to conduct singular and transversal investigations on the margins of these majority formations, to see how people are reacting, innovating, resisting and fleeing.
The goal, then, is to map out the majority models of self and group within each of the emerging continental systems, to see how they function within the megamachines of production and conquest – and at the same time, to cross the normative borders they put into effect, in order to trace microcartographies of difference, dissent, deviance and refusal. For that, it’s necessary to travel and to collaborate, to invent concepts and also set-ups, ways of working. One tactic is to juxtapose sociological arguments with activist inventions and artistic experiments. Another is to crisscross the languages, and even better, the families of languages, and to reside in the gaps between their truth claims and sensoriums. But still another is just to drift and see what happens. The ideas of Felix Guattari, particularly in Chaosmosis and the untranslated study, Cartographies schizoanalytiques , can provide a kind of crazy compass for these attempts to articulate something subjectively and collectively, outside the existing frames.
Obviously, this kind of project is scientifically “impossible.” No conceivable group of researchers, and certainly not an ad-hoc operation, could possibly synthesize the varieties of knowledge needed at these scales. This is where a de facto censorship begins to operate, with all kinds of consequences. To accept the impossibility is to condemn oneself to ignorance, not only of the contemporary macrocosm (the world-space), but also of the dynamics of your own microcosm (what happens in your head, what pulses in your veins). So we’re gonna try the project nonetheless.
Modularity and experimentalism will be the strategies for eluding any tacit censorship of this irrational desire to know. Modularity, because it refuses the totalizing construction and always leaves room for an extra module to be inserted in a line of questioning, completing it, problematizing it, or opening up a new bifurcation. Experimentalism, because the existing rationalities and protocols of truth are simply not enough to make a world, and only the undiscovered form or order holds a chance of breaking the deadlocks that confront everyone, at the micro and macro scales of disaster in the twenty-first century.
This project stems from the geophilosophical desire of an individual, but demands only to multiply. The research will be done through the opportunities of various collaborative projects, on location and over the net. The seminars in which the major hypotheses will be formulated and explored, and certain case studies presented, will be carried out with a series of mostly non-institutional partners, beginning with the 16 Beaver group in New York, for a seminar extending from September 12 to 18. Certain research modules will be published with cooperating institutions, and/or presented at conferences. Results of the research and contributions by participants will be posted on here on www.u-tangente.org, and perhaps on a specific project website.
4. Continental Drift Program 09.12.05 – 09.18.05
The second series of seminars will take place the weekend of October 21-23
Tuesday, September 13:
Lecture at Cooper Union.
Thursday, September 15:
Speed, Scale, Subjectivity:
Towards a cartography of contemporary social relations
Guest of the day — Greg Sholette
General introduction to the project of mapping the crisis in social relations, using the continental blocs as the basic framework of analysis. Cartography theory: the violence of flat representation; mapping the conflicting projections; three-dimensional articulations of resistance. The projection of American economic structures across the world in the postwar period; emulation and rivalry within the world system; towards the crisis of US hegemony. Guattari’s models for the self-organization of complex systems: towards a collective articulation.
Previous work by BH that could be interesting:
“Imaginary Maps, Global Solidarities” (version 1):
Some readings:
–Rana Dasgupta, “The House of the Frankfurt Map-Maker,” in Tokyo Cancelled
–David Harvey, The New Imperialism
–Suely Rolnik, “Politics of Flexible Subjectivity,” at www.u-tangente.org
–Felix Guattari, Chaosmosis
Friday, September 16:
Let Them Eat Networks:
Neoliberal theory and the de/construction of NAFTA
Guest of the evening – David Harvey
The Internet as Imperial infrastructure: hierarchy and constitutional dynamics; liberalism and the control of environments. The Pentagon’s new map: a program for the symbiosis of financially led development and military power. Plan Puebla-Panama: constructing connectivity. NAFTA and the Zapatista rising: history and poetics; theory of swarming; subversion and capture. From NAFTA to CAFTA. Ricardo Basbaum: Towards a diagram of the swarm. Questions about the first phases of resistance to continental integration.
Some readings:
–Gilles Deleuze, Foucault
–Thomas Barnett, The Pentagon’s New Map
–Subcomandante Marcos, Ya Basta
–J. Arquila and D. Ronfeldt, The Zapatista “Social Netwar” in Mexico , at www.rand.org/publications/MR/MR994
Saturday, September 17:
European Norms of World Construction:
The EU and its two peripheries
The TransEuropean Picnic: a quizzical day on the outside. The map of European Norms. Neoliberal state-transformation: the Mild West and the Wild East; the social-democratic “core” and the neoliberal “new Europe.” Building blocs: Civilization IV (the corporation). The coded utopia of Makrolab.
Previous work by BH that could be interesting:
Interview with Kuda.org, “Looking out from the Margins,” at www.transeuropicnic.org (“txts” section)
(also at u-tangente.org, BH archive, “Meteors” section)
Some readings:
–Bureau d’Etudes, “European Norms of World Construction,” cover text: http://ut.yt.t0.or.at/site/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=220&Itemid=117;
main map:
–John Pinder, The European Union: A Very Short Introduction
–Bob Jessop, The Future of the Capitalist State
–Eastwood Group, “Civilizaton IV,” www.eastwood-group.org
–Makrolab project, http://makrolab.ljudmila.org/current
Sunday, September 18:
Neolib Goes Neocon:
Pastoral power and the bid for empire
George Bush and Billy Graham: born again for a new Cold War. Genealogy of the neocons, 1945-2005. Foucault’s analysis of pastoral power; the role of “value intellectuals” and media in the 1960s; the revenge of the believers. Totalitarianism of economic rationality; overextension of the postwar system; collapse of neoliberalism. Timeliness of Polanyi’s crisis theory. Perspectives for an oppositional culture.
Previous work by BH that could be interesting:
“Deflation anyone?”, at
Some readings:
–Sara Diamond, Not By Politics Alone: The Enduring Influence of the Christian Right
–G. Burchell, C. Gordon. P. Miller, eds., The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality
–Trilateral Commission Report, The Crisis of Democracy (1975)
– Wendy Brown, “Neo-liberalism and the End of Liberal Democracy,” Theory and Event 7.1
–Giovanni Arrighi, “The Rough Road to Empire,” at www.nu.ac.za/ccs/files/Arrighi%20PEWS%202003%20revised%20_1_.pdf
– Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation

5. Continental Drift Registration
The idea behind the registration was to orient ourselves on how many people will take part, and the second and main idea was to be able to follow and share some kind of continuity and commitment in the discussion.
Now that we have a group of Committed Comrades who registered for the seminar a while back when we first sent the enrolment email….
we still have the capacity, space wise to accommodate a few more people… even if you are not able to attend the whole seminar, and would like to attend for one of the days, (despite the fact that this is not the ideal kind of participation)
We unfortunately have to ask for a fee…
Fee for one day — 10$
For the whole seminar — Sliding Scale 25 –50$
please let us know this Monday what you decide, or send an email to
6. Continental Drift Netcasting
We are still in the process, but we will have it soon on our seminars’s page
7. Continental Drift Guests
Greg Sholette will be our guest on Thursday and David Harvey on Friday.